Monday 16 December 2019

Big bang: Chinese internet giant jumps 6.6pc on Hong Kong debut

Take a bow: Officials of Alibaba take part in the ceremony as it launches on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Photo: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
Take a bow: Officials of Alibaba take part in the ceremony as it launches on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Photo: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Lulu Yilun Chen

Alibaba Group rose 6.6pc on its Hong Kong debut, fuelling the ambitions of China's largest internet company as well as a city rocked by violent anti-government protests.

Chairman Daniel Zhang, lieutenants wearing Alibaba lapel pins and Hong Kong dignitaries were on hand to strike the opening gong at a celebration of the city's biggest stock listing this year. The company presented a Chinese-style painting to the exchange, a souvenir to go with the showy coming-out party.

The Chinese e-commerce giant's shares rose to HK$187.60 (€21.65) from a HK$176 issuance price. They traded under the code 9988, auspicious numbers in Chinese culture signifying prosperity.

Asia's most valuable corporation raised about $11bn (€9.98bn) in the financial hub's largest issuance of stock since 2010, a triumph for a stock exchange that over the years lost many of China's brightest technology stars to US rivals.

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Now, the blockbuster debut by one of China's most successful companies signals confidence in Hong Kong's future even as pro-democracy protests grip the city, earning Alibaba goodwill in Beijing.

It makes it easier for investors on the mainland to buy and sell Alibaba shares, primarily listed in New York.

It is also a homecoming for Alibaba, whose decision to hold its $25bn initial public offering five years ago in New York dealt a blow to Hong Kong's ambitions. Listing closer to home has been a long-time dream of billionaire co-founder Jack Ma.

More broadly, his company has been trying to sustain growth at a time when the engines of China's economy are sputtering.

Like fellow internet giant Tencent, Alibaba is exploring new markets as China clashes with the US over everything from trade and technology to investment.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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